Definitions

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Stacking of Trades

Operations take place within physically limited space with other contractors. Results in congestion of personnel, inability to locate tools conveniently, increased loss of tools, additional safety hazards and increased visitors. Optimum crew size cannot be utilized.

Stacking of trades takes place in multi-trade worksites when more than one trade works in a small area or an area that does not allow for adequate work space. General contractors’ decisions or project related reasons may force multiple trades to share space which can cause numerous difficulties.

Examples of items to consider include:

  • Work being done out of sequence
  • Project schedule falls behind
  • Existing small areas such as corridors and hallways become more crowded
  • Trades vying for space creates tension and conflicts
  • Inability to use tools and equipment appropriately
  • Creation of additional safety and health hazards
  • Supplies and materials handing becomes inefficient
  • Lost supplies and equipment
  • Delayed start up or testing / balancing or commissioning of HVAC equipment
  • Coordination of advanced technology (3D, BIM) is negatively impacted
  • Lost focus on work sensitive areas such as operating rooms and clean rooms


Moral and Attitudes

Excessive hazard, competition for overtime, over-inspection, multiple contract changes and rework, disruption of labor rhythm and scheduling, poor site conditions, etc.

Keeping moral high and attitudes positive are important factors for successful construction projects. Workers who are willing and able to work on positive projects are likely to be more productive and able to complete quality work. The “rhythm” of the workplace plays a major role in setting schedules and project success when moral and attitudes are positive, thereby avoiding related negative problems.

Examples of items to consider include:

  • Increased conflicts among trades, supervisors and workers
  • Taking workers off their daily routine or process (rhythm)
  • Workers’ reluctance to work OT causes stress
  • Micromanaging and questioning by supervision
  • Multiple punch lists (Engineers, Architects, General Contractors, etc.)
  • Increased conflicts and disputes
  • Poor quality workmanship
  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Over inspection by general contractors and supervisors
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor housekeeping and site conditions


Reassignment of Manpower

Loss occurs with move-on, move-off men because of unexpected changes, excessive changes, or demand made to expedite or reschedule certain work phases. Preparation not possible for orderly change.

When workers are reassigned, they experience a number of personal and professional (work) issues, especially when the reassignment is last minute or otherwise untimely. The change of assignment may be field directed or corporate directed and the reasons vary. The issues created by the reassignment can have positive, but more likely, negative effects.

Examples of items to consider include:

  • Reorientation to supervisors /co-workers and work area
  • Training for new processes and tools/equipment
  • Increased supervision to train and supervise
  • Absenteeism and turnover
  • Shift Work - work on second and third shifts are less efficient
  • Increased worker fatigue
  • Disputes over re-work
  • Leaving behind incomplete work


Crew Size Inefficiency

Additional workers to existing crews “breaks up” original team effort, affects labor rhythm. Applies to basic contract hours also.

Similar to reassignment of manpower, crew size inefficiency focuses on the potential for decreased productivity caused by factors associated with the size and composition of the crew. The goal should be to obtain “optimal” crew size. Changes in craft level plans and regional worker availability may create reasons for the resulting inefficient crew assignments. Poor timing of crew build-up (too late or too early), front end loading (purposely large crews) and “under-manning” (not enough workers) can create project issues.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Schedule delays
  • Excessive work requirements on workers
  • Inexperienced workers performing work in which they are not trained
  • Supervision inefficiency
  • Conflicts with local union
  • Breaks up the original team effort
  • Decreased productivity (when increased productivity is desired)
  • Added or extended coffee / lunch breaks

Concurrent Operations

Stacking of this contractor’s own force. Effect of adding operation to planned sequence of operations. Unless gradual and controlled implementation of additional operations made, factor will apply to all remaining and proposed contact hours.

Similar to stacking of trades, concurrent operations relates to issues with internal project decisions such as adding one operation before the prior operation is complete. The push for moving to concurrent operations may come from upper management as a way to improve the schedule or pushed on the company from the owner / general contractor. Perceived as a way to increase productivity, trying to complete one operation while another is overlapping can create project hardships.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Affects fabrication shop schedule and output
  • Availability of supervision
  • Decreased availability of materials, tools and equipment
  • Conflicting access to material handling aids such as rigging and freight elevators
  • Concerns with high hazard work such as crane lifts and tasks with multiple trades involved

Dilution of Supervision

Applies to both basic contract and proposed change. Supervision must be diverted to a) analyze and plan change, b) stop and replan affected work, c) take-off, order and expedite material and equipment, d) incorporate change into schedule, e) instruct foreman and journeyman, f) supervise work in progress, and g) revise punch lists, testing and start-up requirements.

Moving supervision from a planned, productive schedule to conduct tasks that are “trouble-shooting “ in nature with limited project value is often required but not desired. As the “middle man” between upper management and the workers, supervisors are often called on to resolve conflicts or provide requested company input. This movement away from productive work or increasing the project size without adding proper levels of supervision can have various consequences.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Incur additional cost by bringing on more foreman
  • Pulling other key personnel to move to new work
  • Inexperienced supervision performing work in which they are not trained

Learning Curve

Period of orientation in order to become familiar with changed condition. If new men are added to project, effects more severe as they learn tool locations, work procedures, etc. Turnover of crew.

Several labor factors are related to moving workers, adding workers and assignment of manpower. Most significant changes in crew assignments requires the supervisors to ensure that the project knowledge base is sound and adequate to get the work done. Workers often need to be provided with new and updated information (education) and skills (training) and that learning curve can create other issues that need to be addressed.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Downtime to provide company or project orientation (or re-orientation).
  • Administrative burden to complete paperwork to document training
  • Need for worker to demonstrate understanding of new policies and procedures
  • Need to learn new tools and equipment
  • Needed emphasis and learning of new safety requirements

Errors and Omissions

Increases in errors and omissions because changes usually performed on crash basis, out of sequence or cause dilution of supervision or any other negative factors.

The liabilities associated with a project include opportunities to miss something or leave out a critical step in the process through errors and omissions. Negligence, mistakes, or otherwise failing to perform job duties can be caused by a number of factors affected by owner demands, general contractor requirements, inadequate or incorrect supervision and numerous factors affecting workers.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Crash basis – field directives from architect and engineer due to errors in the design. Diagnostic time may be needed to “prove” or dispute error claims
  • Delegated Design – designer of record delegating design responsibility to contractor (intentionally or unintentionally)
  • Administrative time to document issues and reclaim lost money
  • Internal company errors
  • Other construction issues appear to be HVAC related
  • (i.e., building envelope problem appears to be an HVAC issue)
  • Add on work to tight project budget or schedule may prevent too much assistance

Beneficial Occupancy

Working over, around or in close proximity to owner’s personnel or production equipment. Also, badging, noise limitations, dust and special safety requirements and access restrictions because of owner. Using premises by owner prior to contract completion.

Beneficial occupancy allows the owner to occupy the building or part thereof prior to full construction completion. This should be addressed in the design / contract stage in order to avoid conflicts that can arise in an unplanned, early occupancy. By its nature, construction work often includes tasks and processes that are unfamiliar to most building occupants and significant restrictions are often placed on the contractor to lessen these impacts.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Hospitals, research facilities, laboratories often have strict requirements
  • Confined work space
  • Cleanliness a big issue (control over housekeeping, dust, debris, etc.)
  • Odors, fumes, chemical use scrutiny and complaints (indoor air quality)
  • Noisy areas – the need to keep noise levels down
  • Odd work shifts
  • Additional training to meet owner / client requirements
  • Downtime to conform to client / owner schedule including work permits
  • Additional, specialized equipment needed (safety clothing, respirators, etc.)

Joint Occupancy

Changes cause work to be performed while facility occupied by other trades and not anticipated under original bid.

Similar to stacking of trades, joint occupancy occurs when multiple trades are moved to one work area (for a variety of reasons, often schedule related). This consolidation is often not in the original bid or plan. The last minute project changes often cause issues affecting labor costs.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Need for coordination meetings
  • Crowded work areas with a variety of tools and equipment
  • Increased supervision to monitor a busy work area
  • Conflicting access to material handling aids such as rigging and freight elevators
  • Concerns with high hazard work such as crane lifts and tasks with multiple trades involved
  • (see Stacking of Trades)

Site Access

Interferences with the convenient access to work areas, poor man-lift management or large and congested worksites.

Large projects, congested worksites, projects in urban areas, projects with high security and odd shaped or very tall buildings/skyscrapers can present site access issues that should be identified and planned early in the process. Entire work sites, parts of worksites or parts of buildings can have access problems including security checks, restricted areas, hazardous areas, and confined spaces.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Additional time to move workers, materials, tools and equipment
  • Security checks at federal installations and military bases and flight lines (airports)
  • Client policies and procedures – wait for approvals
  • New and substitute workers need to be processed from the beginning
  • International security changes (red, orange alerts)
  • Regulations (OSHA, EPA)
  • Crane use – waivers, move to helicopter, or break down equipment
  • Permit -required confined spaces require significant planning and precautions

Logistics

Owner furnished materials and problems of dealing with his storehouse people, no control over material flow to work areas. Also contract changes causing problems with procurement and delivery of materials and re-handling of substituted materials at site.

A plan for logistical issues on the project is important to address any issues related to owner requirements or owner-provided materials or equipment including available storage areas. Changes to project scope or schedule can cause significant challenges to logistic plans including mobilization / demobilization and delivery of materials and equipment.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Shared storage areas
  • Re-handling of materials (moving multiple times)
  • Need to substitute materials and equipment
  • Owner furnished equipment is incorrect from what was ordered – how to rig it/ place it?
  • Owner / engineer provided equipment with no instructions
  • Need for additional labor
  • Loss of control on delivery (too much arrives or delays in delivery)
  • Location of break areas

Fatigue

Unusual physical exertion. If on change order work and men return to base contract, effects also affect performance on base contract.

Fatigue can be physical or mental stressors to workers and supervisors. Work schedule and coordination need to be monitored so the job “runs smoothly” with minimal disruptions. Expectations of how the project is to proceed create the work rhythm that workers rely on. Most workers and supervisors are not afraid to work hard but they don’t like to work inefficiently.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Aging workforce
  • Extended, excessive overtime
  • Weather causes fatigue (lack of sun, too much rain)
  • Absenteeism
  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Unsafe work practices

Ripple

Changes in other trades’ work affecting our work such as alteration of our schedule. A solution is to request, at first job meeting, that all change notices / bulletins be sent to our Contract Manager. Downstream effect on the mechanical contractor of impacts caused to predecessor trades.

Ripple, or ripple effect, is created when work stoppages and other trades unproductive or poor quality work starts a wave of issues that ultimately impact all contractors. Inefficient or uncoordinated changes to scope or schedule can create ripple. Late stage work such as automation controls and testing / balancing of HVAC systems often get impacted by ripple.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Frequent start-stop of work
  • New scope / schedule
  • Out of sequence work
  • Owner provided equipment not ready
  • Work stoppages including Holidays

Overtime

Lowers work output and efficiency through physical fatigue and poor mental attitude.

The need to work (unplanned) overtime is often related to project schedule issues and the need to “catch up”. Although, it often has the reverse affect when it results in physical fatigue, decreased worker morale, and poor mental attitude, thereby decreasing productivity and quality.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Lack of manpower – union provided manpower
  • Compressed schedules
  • Pacing – workers reduced output over 10-12 hours to match an ordinary 8-hour day.
  • Shop workers schedule impacted
  • Workers away from families instead of enjoying the holidays
  • Increased illness / absenteeism
  • Increased accident rate

Season and Weather Change

Either very hot or very cold weather.

Weather, including the threat of severe weather, is a major concern for certain areas of the country. Construction work is often impacted by weather, depending on the stage of construction and work processes / schedule.

Examples of items to consider include:
  • Extreme temperatures create a huge difference in applying labor factors
  • Relative humidity is a concern
  • Severe storms and natural disasters can affect worker families and personal life
  • Deep snow or floods can stop work for days
  • Damage to materials and equipment
  • Increased safety hazards
  • Heat stress – acclimatization of workers, shade breaks, drinking water access
  • Wearing protective clothing – cost to purchase
  • Need to manipulate / use hands for tools and fine work
  • Lack of sunshine – affects moral
  • Wind conditions (at high elevations)
  • Early “freeze dates”